“Find Your Impact” was the theme for the ViacomCBS Virtual Community event, and it was made abundantly clear how an audience, over fifty people strong, could make an impact by writing letters. Army veteran and Chair of Veterans in Media and Entertainment (VME), Karen Kraft, moderated an informative conversation with leaders from two military mission sets, to encourage digital and handwritten letter writing to these units, and others. Letter writing expresses gratitude from the sender, but also raises morale in the units which receive them.
The first guest speaker was Col William Woityra. Col Williams is captain of a Coast Guard ice breaker ship named “Polar Star” whose primary mission with a crew of 139, is to break-up the ice in Antarctica and the Arctic. The crew of 139 spends eight months out of the year on the Polar Star with no internet connection, which the other four months are spent in dry dock while the ship undergoes repairs from the enormous strain. The Polar Star is currently the only ice breaker in the U.S. Fleet, although more have been commissioned – those ships are still at least five years out.
The second speaker was the first female Sergeant of the Guard in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Sergeant First Class (SFC) Chelsea Porterfield. She started her Army career as a Military Police before being asked to serve as a sentinel based on her impressive Army record. She overcame extreme odds during the training. Now she leads four other female Soldiers out of twenty-nine guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. SFC Porterfield provided all in attendance words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation.
“It was really great to hear the story of Chelsea Porterfield who came from a small town in Texas and traveled the world and now guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She’s an exemplary combination of discipline and motivation,” says Chris Barrett, Marine Corps veteran.
“It’s amazing; the discipline and commitment of the crew of the Polar Star icebreaker.” Melanie Corinne, a Marine Corps Veteran, said. “It was a pleasure to hear Col Woityra share his story, as well as that of the crew, and the icebreaker herself.”
“I personally miss the sense of camaraderie and cohesion that comes with serving in any military branch." Will Kelso, U.S. Army Veteran, said. "While their two worlds may differ, it was most inspiring to hear that both mission successes depend on working closely together as a team. There are so many unsung heroes serving behind the scenes of our great nation. Those guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the crew of the Polar Star, and countless more, deserve our sincerest letters of gratitude for their service to us.”
We appreciate the mission of both these units, and the service and sacrifice of all involved.
We appreciate the mission of both these units, and the service and sacrifice of all involved. To compose and submit a digital letter, or to get the address to handwrite and mail one, please visit the Veterans in Media and Entertainment letter writing page.
Check out the recording of the event on the ViacomCBS YouTube HERE.